Autoimmunity contributes to nociceptive sensitization in a mouse model of complex regional pain syndrome

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SUMMARYB-cell-mediated autoimmunity contributes to nociceptive sensitization in a rat tibia fracture model of complex regional pain syndrome.Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a painful, disabling, chronic condition whose etiology remains poorly understood. The recent suggestion that immunological mechanisms may underlie CRPS provides an entirely novel framework in which to study the condition and consider new approaches to treatment. Using a murine fracture/cast model of CRPS, we studied the effects of B-cell depletion using anti-CD20 antibodies or by performing experiments in genetically B-cell-deficient (μMT) mice. We observed that mice treated with anti-CD20 developed attenuated vascular and nociceptive CRPS-like changes after tibial fracture and 3 weeks of cast immobilization. In mice with established CRPS-like changes, the depletion of CD-20+ cells slowly reversed nociceptive sensitization. Correspondingly, μMT mice, deficient in producing immunoglobulin M (IgM), failed to fully develop CRPS-like changes after fracture and casting. Depletion of CD20+ cells had no detectable effects on nociceptive sensitization in a model of postoperative incisional pain, however. Immunohistochemical experiments showed that CD20+ cells accumulate near the healing fracture but few such cells collect in skin or sciatic nerves. On the other hand, IgM-containing immune complexes were deposited in skin and sciatic nerve after fracture in wild-type, but not in μMT fracture/cast, mice. Additional experiments demonstrated that complement system activation and deposition of membrane attack complexes were partially blocked by anti-CD20+ treatment. Collectively, our results suggest that CD20-positive B cells produce antibodies that ultimately support the CRPS-like changes in the murine fracture/cast model. Therapies directed at reducing B-cell activity may be of use in treating patients with CRPS.

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